Mobile Christian came to Montgomery on a mission to win its first AHSAA baseball championship. Hunter Avery helped the Leopards complete the first step.
Avery, a junior, had six RBIs at the plate to lead the Leopards to a 15-2 win over Randolph County in six innings to take Game 1 of the Class 2A state baseball finals at Paterson Field on Wednesday.
Avery (11-0) pitched five innings for the Leopards, allowing two runs on three hits with five strikeouts.
“I felt good coming into the game,” Avery said. “I think we just concentrated on hitting the ball well when we had runners on base. I give credit to my defense for playing well behind me.”
Mobile Christian head coach Talley Haines said his players handled the big stage extremely well.
“We came out ready to play from the opening pitch,” Leopards head coach Talley Haines said. “We were not nervous at all. I tried to help these guys be more relaxed and to just go out and play.”
The Leopards last reached the AISA finals in 2004, losing to Macon-East. They won an AISA title in 1997.
Avery’s three-run double in the second was part of a four-run inning to give the Leopards a 5-0 lead. The Leopards (29-12) scored six runs in the sixth.
Tucker Powell scored twice for Mobile Christian.
“We feel like if we get on base, every hitter can get us runs,” Gill said. “Our coach stresses the team with less nerves usually wins.”
Randolph County (24-8) didn’t have a hit until the fourth inning and committed five errors as it suffered its first loss of the playoffs.
Tigers starting pitcher Elijah McFarland (12-3) went 41/3 innings and allowed eight runs on 10 hits with four strikeouts before leaving in the fifth inning with an elbow injury.
“I had to take some time off for my arm earlier this season,” McFarland said. “It was bothering me a bit today, but there are no excuses. We’ve got to play a lot better.”
McFarland scored in the fourth inning after Danny Simpson reached on an error by the shortstop.
Tigers head coach Pat Prestridge said his team has to put Wednesday’s game behind them quickly.
“It’s our first time being here, and we were a bit shell-shocked,” Prestridge said. “Our young kids were rattled in the field. Baseball’s a funny game, but we’ve been down before.”
Game 2 is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at Riverwalk Stadium. Haines said the key to winning another game today is staying relaxed.
“We’ll find something to eat and have some fun at the hotel,” Haines said. “Hopefully, we come out again and match the competitiveness from this game.”